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Book Review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
an article by Joe Yannielli

I loved James Bond movies when I was a kid. There was something really fascinating about Sean Connery in a tuxedo, sipping martinis, chasing exotic women and working behind the scenes to save the world from imminent destruction. It was kind of cool to think that there were "secret agents" out there foiling evil plots while the rest of us were blissfully unaware.

John Perkinsís new book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is about a different kind of secret agent. While 007 was thwarting the latest super-villain on the big screen, Perkins was traveling to exotic third-world countries as an "economic forecaster" for a large engineering firm (similar to Halliburton). But his covert mission from the National Security Agency (NSA) was to make sure "developing" nations like Panama and Indonesia were burdened with massive debts to the United States and therefore forever blackmailed into compliance with U.S. foreign interests.

Perkins got his job as an economic hit man through a relative of his wife, who happened to work for the ultra-secret NSA. Although a little bothered by the ramifications of his work, Perkins claims he was seduced by the ritzy lifestyle and beautiful locations. After leaving his job in the early 80s, he supposedly tried to write about it, but was prevented by bribes and threats until recent world events compelled him to finally come clean.

The book is easy to read and full of amazing, and rather disturbing, stories. Perkins tells of a few times, for example, when countries fail to accept his firmís economic blackmail. In these cases, "Jackals" (the codename for CIA assassins) were sent in to guarantee compliance. But there is a noticeable lack of detail in the book that undermines its credibility. Perkinsís specific relationship with the NSA and the exact details of what he did in these countries are always (maybe intentionally) hazy.

Nevertheless, this book provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the building of the American Empire from an insider whose conscience finally won out. As long as there are more people like John Perkins, who are willing to step out of an exploitative system and expose it for what it really is, there is hope for the Culture of Peace.

For more, refer to the website of Perkins.


Question(s) related to this article:

Do you think the stories in Economic Hit Man are credible?, To what extent?

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This report was posted on February 5, 2006.